- Year 2023
- NSF Noyce Award # 1852787
- First Name Ro
- Last Name Kinzler
- Discipline Geosciences, STEM Education (general)
Cristina Trowbridge, Ro Kinzler
A science teacher’s identity may be seen as hybrid—or ambiguous. Is one a teacher, or a scientist? Both, or neither? This ambiguous identity is a challenge for many early career science educators. Development of teacher identity has been shown to have a positive effect on teacher retention, a critical priority for the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. Science teacher identity in a museum setting is an understudied phenomenon (Avraamidou, 2016). How can the Museum, home to the Master of Arts in Teaching Earth Science Residency program, support teachers’ sense of their science identity and sense of belonging in a teacher community? In addition to its capacity to continue to provide opportunities to learn new science after graduation, the Museum affords opportunities for graduates to participate in a larger science teacher community in NYC. This participation in a community of practice nurtures teachers’ confidence in authentically inhabiting their scientist identities as teachers (Rushton & Reiss, 2019).
Most individuals who decide to become science teachers seek to share their love of science and engage their students in scientific inquiry. But new teachers’ science affinity is sometimes buried in the many demands of the classroom. MAT ESRP faculty, with ten years of experience preparing and supporting new science teachers in the context of the Museum, pose the following questions: What is the role of the Museum in shaping a teacher’s science identity? How can new teacher induction at the Museum support teachers’ community of practice?
The MAT ESRP provides two years of post-graduate support to science teachers in their first professional jobs through its new teacher induction program. Induction offers monthly meetups, professional learning, and opportunities to participate in field experiences. One field experience, Earth Science Reciprocal Learning Year (EaRLY) is a year-long professional learning experience in which Earth science teachers engage in New York state paleontological field work and integrate their field experience in the classroom. EaRLY is one element of Co-PI and Museum curator Melanie Hopkins’s five-year CAREER grant awarded by the National Science Foundation (#1848145). Hopkins’s research focuses on the early evolution of animals through the study of the trilobite fossil record. Like all of our MAT ESRP graduates, those selected for EaRLY teach in underserved high schools in New York City and beyond. Noyce scholars from MAT cohorts 8 and 9 are EaRLY participants who are represented in this poster.
Since July 2019, the EaRLY program has reached 26 teachers and 305 students. A small group of participating teachers and staff, using an authentic inquiry approach (Alexakos, 2015) has led research into the impact of EaRLY on science teachers through observation, reflection, and collection of feedback and focus group data from participants. The group’s research suggests that participation in EaRLY fostered early career science teachers’ sense of belonging, cultivation of joy in their professional role, and an experience of authentically inhabiting their science identities as teachers. Next steps will be to continue to follow Noyce scholars and continue to learn how participation in EaRLY and other Museum based experiences within and beyond Induction affect their hybrid identities as scientists and as teachers.
MAT faculty propose that the EaRLY program presents a replicable model for a new teacher induction program that promotes mutually beneficial collaboration among researchers, teachers, and students. The model, adaptable to a range of research topics and settings, invites teachers to engage in scientific inquiry, as well as affording researchers’ connections to the educational applications of their research. Teachers’ adaptations of field experiences for their classrooms broadens the impact of the research and benefits students. In addition, this approach is a good fit for the broader impacts requirements for science research grant proposals.